US President Donald Trump could be given “unpleasant” jail time as his former personal attorney Michael Cohen has agreed to help the New York district attorney’s office as part a high-profile investigation into the Trump Organization, according to Former US attorney Joyce Vance.
Cohen was recently interviewed by prosecutors with the New York district attorney’s office as they tried to dig deeper into reports that the Trump Organization’s handling of hush money payments made to ex-porn actress Stormy Daniels and former model Karen McDougal in possible violation of campaign finance laws, CNN reported, citing sources familiar with the probe.
They held the interview at the Otisville federal prison, where Cohen is currently serving a three-year sentence that was handed to him last year, over various crimes after he pleaded guilty to, including campaign finance violations, tax fraud and bank fraud while working for Trump.
Anonymous sources also told the NBC News that Cohen had agreed to the prosecutors to “provide information about the president’s business operation.”
Cohen and officials from the district attorney’s office at Otisville prison last month, the source added.
Asked during an MNSBC whether Trump committed a crime by paying hush money to Daniels from campaign funds and the concealing it with fake record, Vance did not rule out the possibility of criminal activity.
“What prosecutors seem to be focusing on is the idea that there would have been false business records that would have been submitted,” he explained. “Normally that’s a misdemeanor. But if you submit false business records in an effort to conceal another crime — here, presumably a federal crime involving campaign finance fraud — then it becomes a felony and you’re really in hot water.”
“What we’re hearing in this testimony is that there’s an effort to convert the [hush money payment] into legal fees and that is likely how Trump’s organization reported it in business records, as legal fees,” she added.
Asked about the possible consequences for Trump, Vance said the prosecutors might succeed in proving that Trump had committed a felony rather than just a misdemeanor.
“That really depends on how it’s ultimately structured,” Vance responded. “If they were able to make some sort of a tax charge here, which we don’t know — we don’t know if they have tax records — we could be looking at a lengthy violation for a felony. It’s certainly not a misdemeanor.”
“The felony crime is a serious one, it carries a lot of collateral consequences,” said Vance. “But most significantly is the threat there is jail time involved, and any amount of jail time in the state system in New York would be very unpleasant for the president of the United States.”
Trump’s lawyers have asked a federal appeals court to block Deutsche Bank AGand Capital One Financial Corpfrom handing the financial records of the president’s family and the Trump Organization to Democratic lawmakers.
In subpoenas issued in April, Democratic lawmakers asked the banks for records related to Trump, his adult children and the Trump Organization. US District Judge Edgardo Ramos in Manhattan ruled in June that the subpoenas could be enforced.
The case, before the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan, is one of several legal battles between the Democrats, who took control of the US House of Representatives in January, and the Republican president, who is seeking re-election in November 2020.